Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Master and the Slave (pt3)

Today I ignored the dark and wet weather outside and focussed on making sure my Class 13 would be a strong runner on digital control.


As discussed in part 2, I will be installing two DCC decoders (one in each unit) and setting them to the same address.

IMG_5558LRI first modified the chassis casting of the slave and master units. Cutting away the lugs that formerly supported a small circuit board (now surplus to requirements).  This modification allows just enough space for a Bachmann 3-function decoder. Granted it is not quite enough space, thus a lot of the decoders soft outer shell needs cutting away to help it fit in the gap.

IMG_5573LRI then soldered the decoders into position and covered joins with shrink tube. This was my first time using shrink tube and I feel much more confident that my wires will not break apart as I move the loco and motors around.

Having built another model with a similar pick-up, motor and decoder arrangement I was keen to avoid a certain pitfall: If both motors and decoders pick-up from the same wheel sets, it is difficult to make separate adjustments to the decoders (without disconnecting the pick-ups).

IMG_5560LRTo avoid this problem, I wanted to build the Class 13 with some kind of pick-up connector, which would allow me to separate the pick-up’s for each unit (when needed). While wondering if I had such a connector I noticed the surplus circuit board from the Bachmann 08 includes just the thing!

I super glued the little plastic connector beneath the master unit chassis and wired the two pick-up sets together. The pick-ups are disguised as two hoses that are present on the prototypes buffer beams. All tension between the two units is focussed on the spring-loaded screw link coupling, thus these wires are loose, but kept in place by the 08s outer chassis.



The Class 13 is now one of my best runners. The slow speeds I can get out of the two motors are quite impressive.

Next on the agenda is some filling and sanding.

The Master and the Slave (pt2)


Change of plan…

I have just tested the Class 13’s ability to manoeuvre around short radius curves and over point work (which it manages wonderfully). I think this is mostly due to the large buffers I have used (preventing buffer lock). However, the master unit (with the motor) sounds like it is straining to pull the rather weighty slave unit. It would be a shame if the engine cannot pull a long train in the future because of my decision to remove one of the motors, so I have just reinstalled the motor into the slave unit.


My layout is DCC so this will mean a further modification to the front of the slave unit chassis (to accept a second decoder). For engines with two motors I use two decoders programmed to the same address. This takes the strain off an individual decoder and also allows each motor to be fine tuned separately.


The pick-ups on the Bachmann class 08 are a tad primitive. They are set up on the top surface of each wheel. When the model is brand new this is not too much of a problem. Unfortunately, as time cracks on, the pick-ups collect all the dust and dirt from the wheels until they no longer carry any volts to the motor. They can be cleaned up, but you need to take the wheels out.

As I was already deconstructing the 08s I decided to cut away all the pick-ups and install a new arrangement based on methods I have seen used on RMweb. I superglued two pieces of copper-cladding to the chassis plate and soldered together some new pick-ups from fine copper strip.

So far I am very pleased with this modification. Once I have wired the loco to pick up off all 12 wheels, it will become a very difficult loco to stall.


Class 31 in BR Experimental Blue (pt1)

I have waited patiently for a few years for someone to commission the two Class 31s that were painted in experimental liveries in the 60s. As time has gone by I have decided that I might as well try the repaints myself. Unfortunately the most up-to-date model is Hornby’s super-detailed version, but they have not released a model in a suitable configuration for a few years now (head-code boxes and body steps near the cab are not present on many of Hornby’s recent releases).

Luckily, Hornby have a suitable loco for a repaint in their planned releases for 2013. There are actually x3 different liveries I want to produce with this new release and retailing at £120, I am a bit concerned at the costs (particularly as I have to completely repaint them).

Investigating some threads on RMweb, I have noticed that some people prefer the shape of the older Lima model and having seen some of the impressively updated Lima models, I investigated further. It seems that the new Hornby model has an excellent chassis compared to the poor running Lima model and some have taken to fitting the Hornby chassis underneath the Lima model. This is most certainly a positive for me, as it means I can purchase a Hornby model (irrespective of livery and moulding) and then buy a much cheaper Lima model with the appropriate body configuration and marry the two!

I received the Hornby model to be used as a chassis donor (31268) in the post yesterday.  I must admit it is a lovely model and I very much like the fan wizzing around as it moves, and the opening doors. I find the very faint moulding of the body banding a bit odd, but there we go. I think I can see what some are concerned about regarding the new Hornby model as it does seem quite straight sided, but I equally must admit that I probably would have never noticed unless it was pointed out. I now have to pluck up the courage to dismantle this model and attach it to a suitable Lima body (which has been purchased and is on the way).


I have decided to repaint this model as D5578 which carried the experimental blue livery from approx 1960 to 1963. I will paint mine with the half yellow panels on the cab fronts.

D5578 was described as being in ‘electric blue’ livery, but this blue is much brighter than many of the pictures of D5578 indicate, which often appears as more of a navy blue (see below).

D5578 Stratford May 63 – Copyright Grahame Wareham

I have only seen one picture of the loco in anything close to electric blue, and have seen about three pictures of the loco looking more like it was a navy blue, so I am currently planning to repaint the loco in the darker shade.

Construction Vehicles for Quarry Transfer

For Christmas this year I have received a rather nice Ruston-Bucyrus Crane (made by Corgi). This is exactly what I need for Quarry Transfer. I doubt that it will remain in the Southern Railways Livery (I am currently thinking about painting it red and white) but we will see.


I also received a nice bulldozer from Langley Miniatures. The kit is a white metal TD6 Bulldozer. I am looking forward to building this one (again for Quarry Transfer).

The Master and the Slave (pt1)

I have always been a big fan of diesel shunters. I loved watching little shunters moving around Bescot Yard and the various industrial complexes in the Midlands.

BR Class 13 Diesel Shunter

BR Class 13 at Tinsley. Copyright Mark Addison (from wikipedia)

One shunter I never had the privilege of seeing was the BR Class 13. The Class 13 was a special locomotive, designed to operate over the ‘hump’ in the large marshalling yard at Tinsely. Each one looked like two locos stuck together (which is exactly what they were). Two BR Class 08s were used to create each Class 13 loco. One of them had the cab cut away and was linked, via multiple-working gear, to the other. Thus only one driver was needed to operate these two locomotives; the cabless one being the slave and the cabbed version being the master.

The class 13 was also fitted with large buffer plates which helped counter balance these Siamese locos. Only three were ever created, each with various differences in detail. I saw a model of one on the Rail Express stand at Warley show a few years ago and was eager to try my hand at creating one out of the RTR class 08 models currently available.

First considerations

While visiting the Mickleover Model Railway Show in 2010 I was discussing with a fellow visitor my plans to build a class 13, and how wonderful it would be, having two motors and all, but the chap quickly countered: ‘why use two motors?’ he said ‘wouldn’t it be easier to take one of the motors out’? I must admit, the chap had a good point. I decided that life would be easier if one of the motors was removed, but thought it would be nice to keep the model picking up across both wheel sets.

The two best models to undertake this conversion with are the Hornby and Bachmann 08s. It is apparently easier to modify the Hornby 08 (as it is easier to remove the cab area). Plus the Hornby version is regarded as a superior model. Unfortunately, superiority comes at a price out of my budget range, so I stuck with the Bachmann models.

In October 2010 I came across the perfect donor locos in the form of x2 Bachmann models (08623 and 08672), and so armed with a photocopy of an old Rail Express article on creating a class 13 (Feb 04, No.93) I set to work.


Converting the Bachmann 08 into the slave unit.

I started by removing the motor from the slave unit. I soon discovered that if I wanted the slave unit to continue running smoothly I would need to retain the large cast weight that sits under the motor. The motor really, really didn’t want to be parted from the metal casting and became the most difficult job of this project, particularly removing the motor from the small plastic harness surround (see below).


I then began attacking the slave unit cab. Now it is important to know that the cab is in fact a separate moulded item and actually slides off the Bachmann body (with difficulty). This does leave a chunky area of plastic and interior detail in the location of the cab that needs removing with a small hack saw.


Once the cab plastic was removed it was then time to remove a chunky section of metal-chassis casting which sits in the cab area. Once this was removed with a suitable metal hack saw, it was clear that my 08s were starting to resemble a class 13.

I then used modelling putty to fill in the gap in the cab floor and sanded it to a smooth surface, while also smoothing the cut edges of the bonnet. I then removed the buffers and detail from the buffer beams and sanded them down flat (so they could be used to stick the new ‘meaty’ buffer beams to).

Modelling made easy

It was at this stage that 2011 took me off in another direction and although the new buffer beams were designed and made out of plasticard, I never fitted them. The thought of designing the cab bonnet area on the slave unit put me off.

And so by coincidence RT Models decided to create a class 13 conversion kit out of resin, white metal and nickel-silver parts. I quickly purchased the conversion kit and then got back to work on the loco.

The RT Models conversion kit is easy to put together and was quickly glued into the cab area of the slave unit. I decided to use the new buffer beams supplied with the conversion kit because they already have the holes punched out of the casting for buffers and vacuum pipes.


Stability issues

After refitting the wheels to the now motorless slave unit, I realised that my removal of the cab weights meant that the metal cast no longer fixed to the rest of the chassis (I had cut away the screw holes). I solved this issue by adding a motor harness from an old brass kit to the inside of the bonnet (which provided some rigidity to the body and frames).



It is worth noting that although there were only three Class 13s (now long scrapped), my Bachmann models include conflicting mouldings to any of the three prototypes. The main offender being a tool box (or radiator) on my slave unit that was never included on any of the three real locos. I opted to solve this problem by creating a fictional forth loco (rather than scarring the loco with modelling knives). This also allowed me to be more flexible with livery choice and detail. I have also fitted the larger buffers seen on some of the class 13s, which I think give the model a nice ‘chunky’ appearance. I want to model the engine in approximately 1968 condition, so I plan to keep it in BR Blue, but with the number 4503, which will put the loco in the period just before it was renumbered into the TOPS system as the fictional 13004.

What’s next?

I have linked the master and slave units together with a screw link coupling (managing to make the one on the front of the master fully sprung!), so I need to next test how the loco operates over short radius curves and point-work.

In the mean time, here is a video of the 13’s trial run.

Shades of Grey

Today involved resolving errors in painting-judgement from the day before (with a can of black spray paint). The error was mixing far too light a shade of grey to paint the rock faces. Not only did I paint it too light, but also over far too much of the diorama.

So this morning all of yesterdays work was erased and I started again using a much darker grey, with the aim of gradually bringing the cliff face up to the desired colour. I also decided to have a go at adding some colour to the skyline, while also providing a white base for the vegetation straddling the top of the cliffs.

All painting was undertaken with artist’s acrylics, as they tend to be much cheaper than hobby paints for this scale of work. I used ‘Neutral Grey’ (from the graduate acrylics range) to create a base for the cliff faces; and ‘Burnt Umber’ (from the Galeria range) as a base for vegetated areas.


This is the very early stages of painting so expect these areas to look very different as I progress.

I even managed to construct the wooden narrow-gauge platform today, which I am surprised I managed to fit in. I always planned to have a wooden platform extending over the quarry face for the narrow gauge engines to run tippers over, and I knew that I would have to tackle the super structure for this before I could start fixing down the trackwork.

IMG_7478LRI originally planned to construct the platform out of wood, but soon realised that it was incredibly difficult to cut wooden strips to appear as planks. I then discovered someone selling copper-clad strips (for track making) and realised that this would do the job nicely.

I cut up standard(ish) sized strips and soldered the group of planks together using three long support beams. Having test fitted the platform for alignment I have retired for the evening.

The next thing to do is find a nice design for the legs on the platform.


Priming The Quarry

This morning i spent some time widening the tunnel mouth of the narrow gauge sidings (having noticed that my narrow gauge engines cannot easily fit through the tunnel. Filing away grout from the tunnel mouth is no easy venture, but after 20 minutes of filing, i managed to sort it out.

I then took to priming all the grout surfaces with halfords black primer spray, so i have a uniform surface to work on.

I then trialled highlighting the rocks with grey acrylic paint. Although initially pleased with the grey, I soon decided it wasn’t the look I was after, so I will probably re-prime the cliff faces tomorrow and start again from a darker tone.

I also did some prototype research, investigatig what rock types best suit my grouted surface. It would seem that granite is a good fit for the texture of the coarse-sand grout that I used. So for the moment at least, I have decided that Quarry Transfer is a granite quarry.

More to come tomorrow.